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I Met Ruth This Weekend

In hopes of raising awareness about the reality of genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, Sam writes every Monday about a key issue in an attempt to stop the atrocity. Doing so may not bring about a wave of change, but it is a small ripple that represents the tide that needs turning.
At a weekend retreat for TIRRC’s board of directors, I was able to meet Ruth, an immigrant from Sudan. We didn’t talk long, but it was clear from observation that she was a world away from the Darfur crisis. Or was she?

I begin work as a consultant this week with TIRRC and to ‘research’ my new position I met over lunch with the board. Comprised of men and women from Pakistan, Nigeria, Colombia, and Latin America, the group guides the efforts of TIRRC as they seek to give immigrants and refugees in Tennessee a voice in society.

Ruth is happily living in Memphis, involved with International Community For Refugee Women and Children. She, like my friend Simon from the hotel, has been in the United States for a few years. I don’t know if either is from the Darfur region, but both have seen the evil of war and the destruction it brings. Although faced with a new set of challenges this side of the Atlantic, Ruth’s life is safer and more stable than that of her brothers and sisters back in Sudan.

To see Ruth makes you smile. Her caring spirit for her community and the passion she has to better lives are contagious. She is working daily to assist refugees as they acclimate themselves to their new surroundings; lives lived near highways instead of dirt roads, in walled apartments instead of temporary camps, and with airplanes whirring overhead rather than gunfire and vigilantes.

What can we do to make the lives of the Darfur victims more like the life of Ruth? How can we make it so they worry about where to go to college and what to eat for dinner instead of worrying about if they’ll live long enough to go to college and if there even will be dinner tonight? Life is never easy, but we can make it easier.

Along with signing petitions, calling our representatives, and bicycling to raise money, we can simply be aware. As I’ve harped before, we must really search to find the news we need on the reality of the genocide. But we can also be aware within our own borders. My own Nashville houses some 2,000 Sudanese, many from the Darfur area. They come to America empty-handed, in need of basic resources, housing and jobs. Helping those who help them, like Ruth, is a way to ease their transition and facilitate their lives to embrace new sets of problems, the good kind of problems, like which bank to use, what to wear to school, and who to eat dinner with. It may be cliché to say that our petty problems are nothing compared to those who have lost loved ones to senseless violence, but it’s also true.
So embrace the truth; hire a Sudanese worker.

“I Met Ruth This Weekend”